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Eur J Neurosci. 2000 Apr;12(4):1331-41.

Developmental changes in astrocyte density in the macaque perifoveal region.

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Allgemeine Zoologie und Neurobiologie, Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum, Postfach 102148, D-44780 Bochum, Germany.


We studied astrocyte density both in the perifoveal region and in extrafoveal regions within the same distance of the optic disc (OD) over a time period from foveal pit formation (embryonic day E112) until 2 months after birth. The study was prompted by earlier observations that the adult macaque displays an almost astrocyte-free region around the fovea which, however, at birth is occupied by astrocytes. Thus, we wanted to determine if the perifoveal region is invaded by astrocytes during early development to the same degree as other regions in the central retina, and how the reduction in density can be explained. From the earliest age we studied (embryonic day 112), less astrocytes were found in the perifovea than in other regions equidistant from the OD. In addition, the number of astrocytes steadily declined both in the perifovea and outside until birth. During the first week after birth, there was a further dramatic decline in perifoveal astrocyte density. Double-labelling with glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) immunocytochemistry and the TUNEL method showed that during the whole observation period astrocytes undergo DNA fragmentation and presumably die. However, the rate of TUNEL-positive astrocytes did not significantly differ between perifovea and other regions equidistant to the OD, and at no time did we find a significant peak of apoptosis rate. Thus, the reduction in perifoveal astrocyte density cannot be explained by missing invasion or by selectively elevated apoptosis rates in the foveal and perifoveal regions. Alternative hypotheses are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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